Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 3, Issue 6
   July 2009
 
   What Is It?
 



What Is It?

James Burke, the noted science historian, co-produced a television series in 1978 called Connections. The program was reprised in 1994 and 1997, with a 25-year anniversary show in 2004.

This fascinating series dealt with how a particular discovery or instance created a thread of circumstances that produced a final product or result much different from the original concept. The chain of events as described sometimes took some large artistic steps in putting together the thread, but the main thrust was the exploration of technological change and how it affected each generation. The device in this particular newsletter "What Is It?" is a rather good working example of how circumstances create a need and the function and form follow.

By 1880, Thomas Edison had successfully created the commercial electric incandescent bulb and developed the first distribution power grid. Nikola Tesla then revolutionized electrical power transfer with his work in AC power generation, creating a dependable, stable and cheaper form of power than the DC systems already in widespread use.

The competition created a strong demand for electric lighting in private residences, which had previously consisted of a few small wind-powered, battery-backed installations, usually lighting just two or three 25-watt bulbs. With the advent of reliable, less expensive home electricity came the need to electrify homes, workplaces and, in some cases, large public areas previously illuminated by other means. With that availability of electric services, construction and renovation work had another discipline added to the list of existing trades.

 
 
           
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